Book Review: ‘A Confabulated Compendium of Anecdotes’ by Melissa H North

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This collection of intriguing and mysterious Steampunk-style speculative short stories offers a good variety of settings and situations in which the reader is immersed as the tales develop. 

The writing is evocative and richly textured. Some of these stories are full of brooding darkness and  macabre imagery, creating a powerful contrast with the ironic humour and hopeful adventure that pervades the final story.

These stories are just the right size to enjoy one at a time during breaks in a busy day, and varied enough to maintain the reader’s interest when read in one sitting. 

There is some adult content, so this is not a suitable book for younger readers, but it is a most enjoyable and diverting read for grownups.

Book Review: ‘Angels of Perdition’ Chaos of Souls Book 2′ by R. M. Garino

It is during times of significant trial that one experiences growth and development far beyond that achieved by luxury or effort. 

Themes of endurance and resilience and the survival of the fittest are  explored in depth in this sequel to ‘Gates of Golorath’. (link) ‘Angels of Perdition’ is a saga focused on Arielle and Angus, characters from the previous book who begin a new phase of their lives in this next instalment in the series. The cast of characters and the incredibly complex world established in the first book are continued in the second, but because they are already familiar to the reader, it feels as much like a reunion as it does a continuation. The banter and interactions between various characters are highly engaging and draws the reader deeper into the story as the action and drama build. 

The story is really well told and  expertly paced. The writing is infused with energy and rich imagery that really makes the scenes and characters come to life in the reader’s mind. The action scenes are well developed with excellent attention to detail. 

This is a captivating and quite inspiring read that holds definite appeal to readers of epic fantasy, particularly those who want to discover sophisticated worlds and complex societies with a rich history and a future to fight for.

Short Story Review: ‘The House That Evil Made’ by Sarah Northwood

A dark and suspenseful story in which foreboding builds gradually until the truths underlying the story are revealed. 

This story is evocatively written in a way that draws the reader into the life and mind of the central character as the innocence and natural curiosity of childhood are discarded and replaced by the bleakness of hindsight and the passion of revenge. 

‘The House That Evil Made’ is a 10-15 minute read that can be enjoyed over a coffee break or in a few spare minutes, providing a quick but satisfying escape to the reader’s day. 

Book Review: ‘Another Girl Calls My Dad Daddy’ by Emma L Price

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If there’s anything young readers will find relatable, it’s sibling jealousy and rivalry— especially in blended families. The author has done a great job of creating a realistic and complex family situation in which two girls must each learn to share their father and fully accept one another.

Readers will find Portia both likeable and understandable, and while not all of her responses are ideal, they will se her as a young person who is doing her best to adjust to new challenges and trials. Her challenges in getting to know the real Jasmine are clearly and empathetically portrayed through her thoughts and actions, just as Jasmine’s feeelings are communicated through her behaviours. 

Although both girls find the changes they have to make confronting and awkward, this is a positive and encouraging story that is sure to help young readers understand these kinds of situations from someone else’s point of view. 

This book is probably best suited for preteen and early teen readers, but it is enjoyable enough for older audiences too.  It would certainly be a good choice for families to read together, and a highly appropriate addition to local and school libraries. 

Book Review: ‘Ghosts of the Sea Moon’ by A.F. Stewart

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A magical, mystical and occasionally macabre tale of adventure on the high seas — with a difference. It’s a story as full of tragedy as of danger, challenging the reader to think about grief, anger and vengeance and the devastating consequences they can have for individuals and families.

It’s a story with more than one hero: the bravery and integrity of Captain Morrow, the loyalty of Blackthorn, and the sensibility of Hugh each play a role in navigating a way through the storms caused by the ultimate family conflict. 

Rich in lively writing and vivid imagery, this is a highly original and well-crafted story that quickly hooks the reader and keeps them interested and engaged throughout the narrative. 

Book Review: ‘Books, Blogs and Bloody Murder’ by Michelle Ann Hollstein

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This is a fun short cozy mystery story featuring Aggie Underhill, an amateur sleuth. The story revolves around a woman’s sudden death in a local bookstore.

Aggie is delightful, and each of her friends adds colour and vitality to the story. 

While this particular story is more about Aggie’s situation than sleuthing or solving crime, it is an engaging and entertaining light read that serves as a good introduction to the series.

Book Review: ‘A Tropical Murder’ by Trisha J Kelly

‘A Tropical Murder ‘ is an enjoyable mystery adventure full of hidden clues and red herrings that keep both the reader and the amateur sleuths at the centre of the story guessing. 

The cast of characters is interesting and varied, with plenty of shady characters, hidden motives and skeletons in closets to complicate the puzzle of the disappearance of Malcolm Wilson. 

Unpredictable and original, the story is quite well structured and thoughtfully developed, providing an entertaining and interesting light read.